Hidden from Plain Sight

More than 2 million women are injured by domestic violence and 500,000 require medical treatment annually, yet only 10 percent of primary care physicians routinely screen for domestic violence. The authors of this study examine whether resident physicians exhibit racial and socioeconomic preferences in screening for domestic violence. Questions related to domestic violence screening as well as one of four clinical vignettes were embedded in a range of preventive screening questions in a randomly assigned online survey. One-hundred sixty-seven of 309 resident physicians (54%) from six specialties at a large academic medical center responded to the survey. Many respondents incorrectly reported that the prevalence of domestic violence is higher among women of lower socioeconomic status and who are African American. Results did not, however, provide evidence of differential screening. Improvement of mentoring and educating residents about referral resources may be promising strategies for increasing domestic violence screening by residents, the authors conclude.